Andy Kennedy is a smart man.
He knows what Marshall Henderson does for his program.
He knows that the hyperactive sharpshooter not only helps him win basketball games — that’ll happen when you average 21.3 points and have a penchant for making big plays and big shots down the stretch — and has gotten him within reach of his first NCAA tournament appearance, but brings a measure of attention and publicity to an Ole Miss program that is more or less an afterthought at the university and in the SEC.
And he also knows that the attention and publicity and wins and, potentially, NCAA tournament appearance come at a price.
As entertaining as Henderson is on and off the court, he’s got issues. There’s the off-the-court baggage that stems from arrests and positive drug tests in his past. There is the way he flamed out at Utah and Texas Tech and the rumors that still swirl about him to this day.
And on Saturday, there was Henderson’s epic press conference, in which he simply told the attending media members “If it’s all the same, it’s Saturday night. I’m out.” (It’s worth noting, that Henderson tweeted out a clarification to his comments Saturday. It’s pretty funny.) This came on the heels of Henderson twice having pictures of his partying ways go viral, and his declaration that Wednesday nights are now “#WhiteGirlWednesday“.
On the SEC conference call on Monday, Kennedy was asked about Henderson’s comments Saturday.
“Marshall and I have constant dialogue about making good decisions,” Kennedy said. “That was all in fun. … He just has fun with a lot of things. Sometimes, I’m envious of his nature. He seems to be enjoying it a lot more than I am.”
And you know what?
I’m jealous, too.
Henderson is a star athlete at an SEC school living it up the way that star athletes and SEC schools do. He’s a college kid doing what all of us did in college, and he’s doing it while scoring 21.3 points-per-game for a team that could end up being in the NCAA tournament.
I’m sure there are times where Kennedy wishes that it was legal for a head coach to strangle his players.
But I’m also sure that he realizes just how valuable Henderson has been for his program and his career.
At some point, you have to let a college kid learn from and live with the decisions that he makes.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.